17 April 2010
We ventured into the Italian villa Primo Posto by accident. We were given the recommendation by word-of-mouth but forgot to take down the name and spent half and hour trolling around looking for something that fits the description of an Italian villa.
You would think there aren't many Italian villas in central Thailand, two hours away from Bangkok. Ha. The winery trend made a lot of resorts, vineyards, and private homes resemble Italian villas. We kept second guessing ourselves, wondering if the guy might be referring to a winery. We half discarded the notion because the recommendation came from a competing winery. Granted, the Thais don't have the same sense of retail competition as the more capitalistic Americans.
What caught our attention to Primo Posto was not the huge gates blocking off traffic from the driveway, but the enormous parking lot next to it and a ticket booth at the front. We pulled in and tried to walk into the courtyard. The booth attendants wanted 55 baht. They went on explaining something about the coupon but "55 baht" was the extent of our language skills. I heard coupon and was confused as to whether it was a coupon for purchase or an entrance fee. It didn't take long to figure out we weren't able to communicate with the teens. Then, without ado, they waved us in.
We must have looked like a truly lost pair of puppies because one woman made a beeline to us, welcome us and telling us where the facilities are and to feel free to wander around. She added that the 55 baht coupon applies to any purchases on the premises, and we could "top up" the difference. Neither of us thought to point out we didn't purchase the coupon.
The villa is truly beautiful. They've done an excellent job of building the architecture, the garden, the furniture. There was a gorgeous little vineyard in the back. The first thing that struck me about the entire place was it would be a perfect event location.. a family reunion, Italian-style, or a wedding. The colours popped out- the paint, the flowers, the grapes. It wasn't the dull monochromatic green and yellow that was typical of the region.
It is surprisingly a huge attraction amongst the Thais. I always am amused to see Asians flocking to places like this- replicas built in their homeland, not the real thing. I suppose it's cheaper than purchasing a holiday to Rome or Florence and holds the same level of exoticism if they've never seen such a place before. Our language adventures certainly confirmed that their biggest clientele are Thais, not farangs.
Postscript: a bit of Internet research after the fact revealed that the "55 baht coupon" is the admission. And could be applied towards any purchases on site (conveniently a simple coffee at the café is 60 baht). The poor kids just gave up on us and waved us in instead of bothering with our game of charade-communication. Oops.